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A Record 3.7 Billion Passengers Took to the Skies in 2016

Feb. 04, 2017
2 min read
A Record 3.7 Billion Passengers Took to the Skies in 2016
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There were many travel records set in 2016, from the most Americans traveling abroad (66,960,943) to the most passengers screened by the TSA (738 million). There was even a record set for the number of guns caught in carry-on bags (3,391). Not surprisingly, there's yet another travel record set in 2016: the most air passengers globally.

Yesterday, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported that a "record 3.7 billion passengers flew safely to their destination" in 2016. While there's an estimated 7.4 billion people living in the world, this doesn't mean that half of the global population flew during 2016. Unfortunately, IATA hasn't released stats about how many unique passengers took to the skies in 2016 globally. The record is 3.7 billion passenger trips — of which The Points Guy himself accounted for 151 and TPG Editor-In-Chief Zach Honig chipped in 95. We hope we helped each TPG reader add dozens of flights to this total!

Lower airfares drove more passengers than ever to take to the skies

Globally, there was a 6.3% growth in miles flown by (revenue) passengers, but the growth wasn't limited to just a few regions. All IATA regions experienced growth during 2016. Surprisingly, North America had the slowest growth (3.2%) followed by Latin America (3.6%). Meanwhile, the Middle East retained its spot as the fastest-growing region for the fifth year in a row, recording an impressive growth of 11.2%. Asia Pacific also continued to grow exponentially, with a 9.2% growth over 2015.

To help fuel all of this growth, global carriers established 700 new routes in 2016, and global airfares dropped an average of $44 per round-trip. Although airlines grew capacity by 6.2%, demand rose faster than supply again in 2016. So, yet another record was set: flights were a record-high 80.5% full. However, if you flew one of the five major US carriers, your flights were likely even fuller than that.

How many flights did you take in 2016?

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